Eagles' Nakobe Dean Says He's Healthy Despite Injury-Related Slide in 2022 NFL Draft

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 30, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 10: Georgia Bulldogs ILB Nakobe Dean (17) celebrates during the Alabama Crimson Tide versus the Georgia Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff National Championship, on January 10, 2022, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Nakobe Dean was viewed as a potential first-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft, but he wasn't selected until No. 83 overall in Round 3 by the Philadelphia Eagles because of questions about a pectoral injury.

Dean, a linebacker who helped Georgia capture a national championship last season, downplayed those concerns in his first press conference with Philly.

"I'm healthy," he told reporters Friday. "I'm ready to go. I know minicamp is next week, and I expect to be a full participant for that. Why I dropped? It's not in my control. Nothing I can do. Nothing I could do to make them pick me earlier. I'm grateful and blessed I have this opportunity."

Dean explained his draft slide was "crazy" because he received no information from doctors or teams suggesting his health was a concern, which created frustration.

"Things that were not true cost me a lot of money," he said. "That was the thing that was so surprising and mind-boggling. It was never—I went to doctors, got second opinions and everything, and nobody—nobody—said I should have surgery."

The 21-year-old Mississippi native added he's happy the Eagles gave him a chance and he's now "just ready to work."

Dean is a bit undersized (5'11'', 229 pounds), but he developed into a highly productive three-down linebacker during his time at UGA.

He's coming off a 2021 campaign in which he recorded 72 total tackles, six sacks, five passes defended, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a touchdown in 15 games for the Bulldogs.

It's rare to find a linebacker who appears equally comfortable dropping into coverage or getting after the opposing quarterback, and Dean does it while featuring sideline-to-sideline athleticism. He's truly the complete package from a skill set standpoint.

That said, his injury history is a concern, even if the recent pectoral injury doesn't require surgery, and it's possible teams could have worried about whether he'll get pushed off the ball at the NFL level.

Those issues may have been enough to push him outside the first round, but it's hard to view the Eagles getting him midway through the third round as anything but a steal.

Dean has legitimate Pro Bowl potential and, if healthy, could make an immediate impact as a rookie if Philadelphia has any injuries arise among its linebacker group.

In the short term, all eyes will be on him during rookie minicamp to see whether he's still showing the game-changing ability he put on display at Georgia.